Special Report with Brit Hume
August 25, 2000
TONY SNOW: A judge ruled Thursday that Wen Ho Lee, accused of espionage at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, can be freed on bail.
As FOX news correspondent David Shuster reports, this marks another embarrassment for prosecutors in the case.
DAVID SHUSTER, FOX CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been eight months since Wen Ho Lee was arrested and placed in solitary confinement at a New Mexico jail. Prosecutors argue the nuclear scientist had classified information obtained from Los Alamos and might pass it along to China. But last week, an FBI agent admitted misleading the court, prompting the judge to order Lee free on bail.
STEVEN AFTERGOOD, FED. OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: It's a black eye for the FBI, and I would argue that even if it wasn't deliberate it amounts to misconduct on the part of the prosecution. After all, this guy just spent eight months in jail for no good reason.
SHUSTER: Supporters of Lee claim he's been the victim of racism, a scapegoat for larger problems at the Los Alamos lab. Neighbors of Dr. Lee are now putting up their own property to help the physicist post bond.
JEAN MARSHALL, WEN HO LEE SUPPORTER: I feel a responsibility to do this. There is no one else that is quite in the position we're in.
SHUSTER: Lee still faces a November trial and charges that he mishandled classified information. Prosecutors in the Los Alamos case allege that he downloaded nuclear secrets from a government computer and recorded the data on to seven portable tapes, tapes that have never been found, though last week a weapons expert testified that much of the information allegedly Lee copied is available over the Internet and was certainly not the nuclear crown jewels described by the prosecutors.
(on camera): As part of his release, Lee will be under house arrest, and even his wife will be monitored by the court. Still, the ruling is a major setback for government investigators who have never charged Mr. Lee with espionage but still maintain that he remains a threat.
In Washington, David Shuster, FOX News.